Friday, 27 January 2012

Boost for Box Hill wildlife and Olympic fans

Rare wildlife has a better chance to thrive thanks to scrub clearance at Box Hill in Surrey. The work will also allow many more cycling fans to watch the Olympic road races in July.

The hill is home to many endangered species that only live on chalk grassland. These species are protected nationally and internationally.

Now a detailed wildlife survey, funded by The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has confirmed that we can safely remove some areas of scrub, creating more grassland where these species can flourish.

We have worked with LOCOG and the government’s wildlife and landscape advisers, Natural England, to create a balance between protecting wildlife and promoting enjoyment of top level international sport. 
It is hoped the work will make room for up to 15,000 spectators to watch the world’s best cyclists tackle Box Hill’s Zig-Zag Road, which is widely regarded as the most challenging part of the Olympic race route.

Andy Wright, our countryside manager for Box Hill said: 'It’s great news that so many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting. Since traditional farming ceased in the 1930s, woodland has been encroaching onto the grassland at Box Hill and we’ve been battling to keep it back.

The surveys conducted by LOCOG are the most thorough ever carried out on this site and they have really helped us understand the best way to manage the habitat for the long term. The scrub alongside the road has very few species living in it so when we remove it, it doesn’t matter if people walk in those areas.

Gradually, over the years, that land will turn back into chalk grassland which is a much richer habitat – supporting around 60 to 100 species of plants, animals and insects per square metre.'

Find out more information on the work happening at Box Hill.

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